Crimean crisis: All eyes on Merkel

In the US, there are now doubts that Germany can fulfill its planned role. CNN’s security expert tweeted on Sunday that the German silence about cancelling a preparatory meeting for the June G-8 summit in Sochi is “deafening.” The US, Britain, France and Canada cancelled first. Germany only joined later to give the impression of unity. A former US top diplomat in Washington said on Sunday: “The EU is dysfunctional, but Berlin is the real problem.” It doesn’t help, she argued, that Merkel is a hesitant leader.

In Berlin, such accusations are largely considered to be hackneyed and tired. Of course European crisis diplomacy is difficult, they argue, when a giant country like Russia is creating facts on the ground in Crimea. But while Ukraine is located across the world from the United States, it only takes three hours to fly from Frankfurt to Simferopol.

And then there’s Europe’s dependency on Russian natural gas. Germany receives 35 percent of its natural gas imports from Russia, and a similar proportion of its oil. The Europeans would be well-advised, the Merkel camp argues, not to fan the flames with Cold War rhetoric.